Frances Dick unbeatable

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Horse Of The Year

By Lisa Potter

Nelson’s Frances Dick topped off a stellar season, winning the inaugural Horse of the Year Para Equestrian title for Grade 2. The finale to her season was the icing on the cake – she also won both the North and South Island Championships and National title in her grade. “I’m really stoked,” she says. “It was awesome being part of Horse of the Year and to finish on such a high note.”

Enjoying consistent success with her mare Oxford Belle over the last two seasons, Dick has competed in para equestrian classes since 2001. Born with Hemiplegia, which is total paralysis of the arm, leg, and trunk on the same side of the body, she battles with her balance and effectiveness of the aids. “Spatial awareness is also an issue so it can be challenging sometimes to be accurate in the arena.” Dick acknowledged the huge support of her fellow riders and her parents, as well as her personal trainer Rachel Thomas.

The South Island contingent of para riders travelled to Horse of the Year Show together. Despite competing against each other, they enjoy great camaraderie. Close friend and rival Anthea Gunner, with her pinto mount Huntingdale Incognito (aka Mask) finished up as Reserve Champion – a frequent occurrence all season. “It’s great being so close as I always have someone to aim to beat! I know I just have to catch up to Frances.” Gunner also took the Reserve title at the Para Nationals and South Island Championships. “We’ve progressed since last year - Mask has matured and is managing the atmosphere better. He’s keeping his focus and we’ve really enjoyed Horse of the Year.”

Cementing a strong start with her new mount, Larado, Ilona Lawrence notched up the highest score of the day in the para classes, with 69.50%, to win her the Grade 1a Championship test. Jodie Thorne and San Mateo Tech Effects finished as Reserve Champion. This is the first time para equestrian has been part of the Horse of the Year programme.